On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Ohio State Buckeyes confirmed previous reports that current Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman was the unnamed assistant coach with fired former Ohio State wide receivers coach Zach Smith at a Miami strip club in 2014.
Contacted by the Austin American-Statesman on Wednesday, a school spokesperson declined to comment.
Last week, after a 23-page investigative report revealed the trip, which included Smith spending nearly $600 of his own money at the club, sources connected to the university were willing out anonymously out Herman.
The only truly notable aspect of the incident other than the implications it had for Smith — he was threatened with termination if it happened again — was the presence of one or more high school football coaches, according to the report.
If either of the then-Ohio State coaches paid for anything for the high school coach or coaches, then it could spark an NCAA investigation.
To state the obvious, college coaches probably shouldn’t go to strip clubs with high school coaches at all and certainly shouldn’t violate NCAA rules by paying for any aspect of that trip. Ohio State definitely felt that way, inserting a “morality clause” into coaching contracts after the incident.
Contracts at Texas feature broad language regarding behavior “that reasonably brings into question the integrity of coach in a material way, or that would render coach unfit to serve,” according to the Statesman.
Even with the possibility of NCAA violations, it’s not clear why Ohio State would out Herman as the assistant with Smith except to deflect attention away from the university’s malfeasance in this scandal.
So a situation that isn’t particularly notable in the larger scandal becomes something slightly more unusual considering that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer or someone close to him almost certainly used Jeff Snook to accuse Herman of being the source for former ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy in breaking the Smith scandal.
In a recent radio interview, Snook backed off of some of his initial reporting, but still claimed that Herman and Smith had a “falling out” and that Herman wanted to get Smith fired.
Check out this backtracking by Snook, who originally claimed that the commitment of Lake Travis wide receiver Garrett Wilson to Ohio State helped prompt Herman to allegedly reach out to McMurphy.
“They just wanted his assistant off the staff,” he said on the radio. “I’ll admit I’ve probably overplayed the recruiting angle in my original story. There’s other reasons they wanted him off staff.”
Given the allegations of abuse by Smith against his wife, Courtney, those other reasons might well be the fact that Smith was abusive and had substance abuse issues issues along with a possible sex addiction.
That seems like enough reason for any reasonable person to want Smith fired, though it’s important to note that Herman denied that he or anyone in his family was the source for McMurphy, who also denied Snook’s initial report.
As Meyer attempted to deal with the fallout from McMurphy’s reporting, it made sense for him to try to use Herman as a scapegoat to deflect attention in an attempt to save his job. Now that he succeeded, it’s not clear why Ohio State would continue bringing Herman into this scandal other than to attempt to deflect from a scandal that continues to unfold in slow motion.
Judging by the way that the biggest homers in the Ohio State fan base and the most craven trolls of the Texas program have reacted, Meyer’s ploy has been rather effective.
In other words, it’s just more pathetic behavior from Meyer, who is seemingly willing to do anything to keep his job, despite numerous high-minded comments through the years that attempted to place the head coach as the arbiter of morality in sports.
If any of those comments really mattered, Meyer would have resigned already.
Herman and the Buckeyes head coach certainly aren’t close these days, but it feels as if there’s some other missing element here, because beyond a possible NCAA violation, who really cares if Herman was at that strip club with Smith?
The answer, apparently, is a university and a head coach that have completely lost their way.